Life has never been lack of surprises. What you thought your life would be is not necessary the way you should always live in. Some unexpected experience might be lifechanging and that’s just what happened to Scott Thomlinson.
With a degree in biology at Manchester University, being an English teacher in China probably had never been on the career option list of the young man from the UK. 5-month road trip in North America after graduation drained all his saved money. Still keen to explore a different part of the world while getting financially self-sufficient, he happened to teach English at a Chinese school and he never knew that would be the beginning of his English teaching career in China.
Having been teaching in China for six and a half years, there is never short of fun in classes. It seems the tough education system has never hold back students’ excitement or enthusiasm for an English class with a foreign teacher. Screams and applauses were something surprising when he entering a Chinese class for the first time and something keeping Scott motivated and always enjoyed teaching in China.
Of course, it’s always challenging for a foreigner to teach, and beyond that, to live in a country where its culture and the way people live are totally different from the ones of his own. Language barrier is an obvious one and it takes time to understand the habits of locals-the way they work and communicate.
“Seeing Chinese teachers turn off the light in the office and take a nap with their heads laying on the desk or even pulling up a camp bed during a 2-hour lunch break seems odd to me at first, but when you understood that’s part of their daily routines and you get used to it…including some loud snore,” Scott recalls.
The concerns of how to fit in the local communities were relieved by the welcoming nature of the locals soon after his arrival. The friendliness and hospitality were beyond expectation. Hearty greetings at doors, group photos and even invitation for homemade cooking just gave the sense of a second home in a brand new country.
It is also an opportunity to have a look of the real image of Chinese students. Strict classrooms where rules were enforced and followed? Students sitting in straight lines and raising hands for permission about everything? With these pre-misconceptions in mind, it’s no wonder surprising and impressive to see a group of funny and outgoing students in a western-style classroom so engaging in the class, which made the teaching easy and a lot of fun.
A journey of teaching English in China is never about ‘to teach’ only as you learn as well and you grow out of it as a person. “Having met people from all over the world in a foreign country and learnt a new language, I’m much more confident than I used to be,” says Scott.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that one day I would end up teaching English in China.” But now, the story continues, in China.